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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Arthur Umanoff

I've been looking almost since I started this blog for information on Arthur Umanoff, finally deciding that there was nothing to be found. However, just yesterday, I ran across a blog on the subject started by Jonathan Goldstein in June of 2012. (I should have known that Jonathan would have already uncovered any information out there.) Unfortunately, the last post on that blog was in July of 2012. I'm speculating that Jonathan, who has been writing a book about Paul McCobb, has been too busy on that project to spend much time on Umanoff. If you're not familiar with Jonathan's outstanding research on McCobb, you might like to check out Planner, Perimeter, Predictor, Paul McCobb

But...back to Umanoff. A little more searching on my part turned up a comment made by Jonathan in a Design Addict thread back in 2011. It has as much information about Umanoff as I have seen anywhere. According to Jonathan, Umanoff was a graduate of Pratt University in the early 1950s. Around that same time, he became a partner in a company called Post Modern Ltd., where he was involved in every phase of the design process. The designs that came out of Post Modern were distributed by the Elton Company, which also distributed the designs of Tony Paul, a partner in the company.

The wrought iron and slat chairs, tables, bars and bar carts that most people recognize as Umanoff designs came out of his work with Shaver Howard, a company for which he designed into the 1970s. A bit of a controversy arose in the 1960s when Storkline Inc. took some of these designs and made them child-size. The chairs were fine, but the miniature bar raised some eyebrows. Umanoff responded by calling it a "milk bar."

Also in the 1960s, Umanoff designed furniture for Madison Furniture Industries and designed clocks for the Howard Miller Clock Company. In the 1970s he designed for Directional, Thonet, Dillingham, Rouse/Jackson and David Morgan.

I hope Jonathan finds time to get back to the Umanoff blog. I'm eager for the next installment.

From, and

Arthur Umanoff

Hanging wall desk by Umanoff for Elton

Early plywood swivel desk chair by Umanoff for Elton

Slat desk and chair for Raymor

Swing chair for Elton

Iron, wood and masonite cabinet for Elton

Bar for Raymor

Wine rack for Shaver Howard

Taverneau tray

Howard Miller clock


  1. I could use that awesome slat desk.
    One typewriter on each of those side shelves, you know, balance. ( :

  2. I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner on one of those slat chairs countless times growing up in my parents MCM house. We lived in a small MCM enclave called Raymondale in Northern Virginia (DC suburbs). It fit right in....

  3. My husband recently purchased from a second hand store, four faux-bamboo wrought iron chairs with looped leather arm rests. From their condition I am guessing they may be from the late 60's, early 70's, and possibly were used as patio chairs. The leather straps, although in very poor condition, look very much like the straps used on the Arthur Umanoff wine rack, and the chairs each have a Shaver Howard label on the bottom of the upholstered seats. Would you be able to tell me - if these chairs were designed by Arthur Umanoff, would they always have an identifying stamp on the bottom?

  4. Arthur Umanoff's daughter, designer Wendy Umanoff, lives in Richmond, Virginia. A Modern Home tour group recently got her to do a talk on her father and tour her house. She has some really amazing pieces of his, and a loft-full of drawings and plans. She told some swell stories.

  5. If you don't alreday know, Craig Umanoff, son. Architect and filmmaker, Portland, Oregon. Craig Umanoff

  6. Was Arthur involved with a company called Wrought Iron Chair Co.? I have some wood slat bar stools that are from a Futura line. It probably was the first adjustable chair as it can be at bar height or counter height. His designs cross over into this version and I still can not find information but he did live in Pennsylvania and the co. was from there. Anyone know anything?

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  8. I just recently picked up a large 48 bottle Umanoff wine rack at a yard sale. Some of the larger straps are broken and others are very dry. Would I do it justice to replace the straps and rivets or should i leave the original straps?

  9. I'm going to make something like this, but covering mine in some fancy duct tape. It'll strengthen the rack and look nice :)
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